BT Premiership: Ayr cement second with County win

BT Premiership: Ayr cement second with County win

Ayr secured a 29-14 bonus-point victory over Stirling County at Bridehaugh to cement second position in the table behind league leaders Melrose as the BT Premiership enters its final round stages. County adjusted to a competitive Glasgow side early on and from the kick-off Ayr kept County pinned back in their own half for the first ten minutes of play. Ayr went ahead after 13 minutes, when County tried to move the ball left in midfield, but stand-off Frazer Climo intercepted the loose pass and offloaded to centre Danny McCluskey who sprinted clear from 45 yards out to score the opening try to the left of the posts. Climo then added the conversion to put Ayr seven points ahead.Ayr increased their lead to 0-10 on the half-hour mark with a successful 30-metre penalty from Climo, after the Ayr forwards drove their opponents back 20 metres and County were penalised for illegally handling in the ensuing ruck.Three minutes before the interval, a flat-pass from County stand-off Ross Jones on half-way put number eight Ruairidh Leishman through a gap, and supporting winger Sean MacDonald carried possession into the Ayr 22, before the ball was quickly recycled to Jones who sent a perfectly weighted kick into the left-corner for winger Logan Trotter to gather and dive over the line to score a try. County’s captain Jonny Hope successfully kicked the difficult conversion from the touchline, to bring the home-side right back into the match.The home-side deservedly took the lead for the first-time in the match on 59 minutes, following a move which started with a crunching tackle by outside-centre Craig Pringle on his opposite number Archie Russell on half-way.Possession was turned over to County, who kept the ball in the hands of Fergus Bradbury, Logan Trotter and Hamilton Burr as they advanced into the Ayr 22, with prop Corey Flynn, the Glasgow Warriors professional and former New Zealand 2011 World Cup winner, providing the scoring assist to Andrew Grant-Suttie.The debutant replacement touched down for a try close to the left-hand upright. Hope slotted the conversion to give County a 14-10 advantage.Ayr were awarded a penalty, which Climo kicked to touch on the left-side deep in the County 22.  Ayr secured their line-out and the ball was quickly worked in-field and after a series of attacking drives by the visiting pack, their prop George Hunter bulldozed over the line to score a try under the posts. Climo converted to put Ayr back in front 14-17, with thirteen minutes remaining.Ayr utilised their rampant pack to make ground into the home 22, before moving the ball wide and exploiting gaps in the County defence, with both Richard Dalgleish and Grant Anderson each scoring tries in the left-hand corner in the final four minutes, the latter converted by Climo, to secure a bonus-point win for the joint league-leaders, and deny County a losing bonus-point.Referee: Graeme Wells  BT Premiership Round 16: Stirling County v Ayr, Saturday 21 January 2017 Stirling: Jonny Hope CAPTAIN; Shaun MacDonald, Craig Pringle, Alex Black, Logan Trotter; Ross Jones, Matt Donaldson; Fergus Bradbury, Corey Flynn, Adam Nicol, Hamilton Burr, Adam Sinclair, Alex Taylor, Matt Emmison, Ruairidh Leishman.Replacements: Dougie Westwood, Mark Hunter, Andrew Grant-Suttie, Colin Turnbull, Logan Bonar. Ayr: Grant Anderson; Jamie Bova, Archie Russell, Danny McCluskey, Craig Gossman; Frazier Climo, David Armstrong; George Hunter, Lewis Anderson, Steven Longwell, Rob McAlpine, Scott Sutherland, Blair Macpherson, Will Bordill, Pete McCallum CAPTAIN. Replacements: Robbie Smith, Adam Prentice, Craig Stevenson, Richard Dalgleish, Stafford McDowall.  BT Premiership Round 16 Results: Stirling County 14-29 AyrCurrie 35-8 HawickGlasgow Hawks 34-19 Boroughmuir Gala 0-26 Heriot’sMelrose 46-41 Watsonians 

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